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The election: where to vote, what to look for

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008


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Students who are at least 18 years of age and registered to vote in Rhode Island are eligible to vote in today’s general election. Voters must have registered in Rhode Island by Oct. 4 to cast ballots for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and local races. If unregistered, voters may cast a limited ballot for the presidential and vice presidential races at the Dunkin Donuts Center at One LaSalle Square in downtown Providence.

There are 581 polling places in Rhode Island, most of which open at 7 a.m. All polling places close at 9 p.m., but any voter who is in line at a polling booth by that time is eligible to cast a ballot.

Voter information, including sample ballots and where to vote, is available at www.state.ri.us/vic.

U.S. SENATE

Jack Reed

Incumbent Jack Reed, D-R.I., is running for his third term in the U.S. Senate, campaigning on a platform of energy independence, middle class tax reform and opposition to the Iraq War.

Reed, an Army veteran, is widely seen as one of the foremost experts on national defense and drew attention earlier this year as a potential vice presidential pick for Sen. Barack Obama. He also accompanied Obama on his tour of the Middle East over the summer.

Reed’s opponent, Robert Tingle, has criticized the senator as partly responsible for this year’s financial crisis because of his position on the Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Investment and Insurance.

Still, the criticism doesn’t seem to be sticking with Ocean State voters. Reed has a 68 percent approval rating among Rhode Island voters, according to a Sept. 19 University poll, and enjoyed a 52-point margin over Tingle in a poll conducted in July by Rasmussen.

Despite his commanding lead, Reed has actively campaigned this cycle, raising over $4 million for campaign funding.

“I work hard every day, and I’m working hard for this election,” Reed told the Associated Press last week.

“This is an opportunity and an obligation to get out to the people of Rhode Island and talk to them.”

Robert Tingle

Robert Tingle, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat and a pit boss at Foxwoods Resort Casino, ran against Reed for the Rhode Island Senate seat in 2002, losing 78 percent to 22 percent.

This cycle, Tingle refused to raise money, running a low-budget “Ronald Reagan Conservative” campaign, according to his campaign’s Web site.

Tingle is “strongly opposed to the latest version of the pork-laden, taxpayer funded, $850,000,000,000 Wall Street bailout,” his Web site proclaims in all-capital letters. “Crooks and thieves should not be bailed out at taxpayer expense. They should be thrown in jail.”

Tingle, who supports eliminating the income tax in favor of the “Fair Tax,” decriminalization of marijuana and the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, has tried to build populist traction by placing the blame for the current financial crisis on Reed, who serves on the Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Investment and Insurance.

Though Tingle said last week that he has a chance to win, even state Republican chairman Giovanni Cicione called the race an “incredibly difficult challenge,” according to the AP.

U.S. HOUSE, DIST. 1

Patrick Kennedy

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., has held the District 1 seat – which includes the eastern part of the state, including Providence – since 1995. This year’s election is an exact rematch of the 2006 election against Republican Jonathan Scott, which Kennedy won with 69 percent of the vote.

Kennedy is known as a strong advocate for environmental regulation, especially for programs to protect and restore Narragansett Bay, and for health care and mental health advocacy. Kennedy made headlines two years ago for a prescription drug-induced car crash, followed by a stint in rehab for alcohol and prescription drug addiction.

Since then, Kennedy has resurfaced on the national scene for his public endorsement of Obama’s presidency last spring, and the grave illness of his father, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Kennedy’s approval and disapproval ratings are about even – 46.7 percent and 46.8 percent, respectively, according to a Sept. 19 Brown poll. Kennedy has raised $1.4 million over the last two years, according to the Providence Journal.

Jonathan Scott

Republican Jon Scott, running for the second time against Kennedy, is not the most conventional political candidate.

Unemployed since 2004, Scott formerly ran group homes for troubled youths. He has not raised enough money this election cycle to require reporting under federal law, and has acknowledged that beating Kennedy is a long shot.

Still, Scott is “running a campaign based on working class common sense and the belief that serving in federal office was never meant to be a family business or a lifetime position,” according to his Web site. Scott calls himself a moderate Republican, and supports abortion rights, along with Reagan-inspired reductions in government size and taxes.

Scott has vocally criticized Kennedy for refusing to participate in debates.

“The congressman does not represent Rhode Island, he represents the government,” Scott told the Providence Journal last week. “Why else would he deprive his constituents of a debate?”

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 3

Rhoda Perry P’91

Democrat Rhoda Perry P’91 is running unopposed for her tenth term in the state senate representing District 3, which includes much of the East Side of Providence.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE

DISTRICT 3

Edith Ajello

Democrat Edith Ajello is running unopposed in today’s election, for her ninth term as state representative for District 3, which covers most of College Hill, including Brown’s campus.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE

DISTRICT 2

David Segal

Democrat David Segal is running unopposed in today’s election after winning the Democratic primary this September over challenger Rich Rodi, by a wide margin.

Segal represents District 2, which includes the Fox Point neighborhood and parts of College Hill.